Seeing your parents grow old is one of the strangest experiences you’ll ever go through. For a large chunk of our lives, they’re the person we lean on for a roof over our heads and food on the table. Even after you fly the nest, you know that you can always call mom or dad for help. When they reach their senior years, the tables turn. Naturally, we want to take care of our parents, but it’s also important to let them retain their independence. Here’s how to do both.

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First of all, introduce your parents to cell phones. More and more seniors are becoming just as tech-savvy as our kids these days, but if your parents still struggle with phones it may be time to give them a crash course. When they have a phone and need any kind of assistance, they can call the person or service without having to bring you into the picture. Obviously good families are there for each other, but having to rely on your child all the time obviously doesn’t feel great. Having a constant way to communicate will help them retain their independence a little more, and can be a big help if you opt for senior companion care.

Making sure they have a regular social circle is another great way to help your parents feel independent. They’ve worked their whole lives to provide for the people they love, and now that they’ve hit retirement it’s important for them to be able to enjoy it! It’s unfortunately common for people to hit their senior years, and become hostile to the idea of going out or seeing anyone. While going out can present more of a challenge when you’re getting on in years, having some kind of social life is good for our health, and I’m not just talking about mental health. Try and re-ignite their passion for a hobby, or try and introduce them with some of your friends’ parents. At the very least, you should make a point to bring them over for dinner with the family once or twice a week.

Finally, don’t overstep the mark when you help them with paying bills. This is a pretty tough one. Taking over anyone’s financial dealings will immediately make them feel like they’ve lost their independence. On the other hand, any mistakes with paying bills and banking can be extremely serious. If your parent has an illness which means it’s harder to cope with paying the bills, then you need to find a good middle-ground. When you suspect they’re not competent enough to take care of their financial matters themselves, bring it up in passing the next time you see them. Groan about how complicated this or that process is, and maybe they’ll join in by talking about their own responsibilities. Offer to help, or simply just to look at their bills for them. If you see they’re doing something wrong, tell them, but don’t become too involved. As long as you’re not taking over completely, they’ll still feel independent.